Heart disease is a common condition affecting the majority of people around the world and is one of the major causes of death worldwide.
There are certain foods that you can include in your diet to maintain your heart's health. Although you are aware of the healthy heart diet, it is difficult to change your food habits. So, there are ways through which you can fine-tune your diet and gradually improve your eating habits with success.
In the article, we discussed some foods good for heart health that can be included in your diet. We have also briefly mentioned healthy eating habits for a healthy heart.
Healthy Heart Diet
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and tuna contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acid is important for maintaining good heart health and preventing heart diseases such as congestive cardiac failure, arrhythmia, and heart attack.
Additionally, eating fatty fish reduces total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. If you do not eat too much seafood, you can take fish oil supplements to fulfill your essential fatty acid requirements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also available in the form of krill oil and algal oil. It is recommended to take two portions per week of fatty fish or fish oil to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Beans contain a good number of healthy nutrients that are cardioprotective. Nutrients such as folate, magnesium, and antioxidants are helpful in reducing inflammation and blood pressure, which are risk factors for heart disease.
Additionally, beans contain a good amount of fiber, which improves the gut microbiome and helps to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar, which are major risk factors for heart disease. You can add beans to soups and salads for regular consumption.
Olive oil is considered to be a good healthy heart diet because it contains antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory effects useful for protection against chronic inflammatory diseases and heart conditions. Olive oil also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to lower cholesterol levels and provide cardioprotective activity.
Studies have shown that people who consume olive oil have a lower risk of developing heart disease and also a reduced risk of dying from heart conditions. Olive oil can be consumed by drizzling it over salads, cooked vegetables, or bread.
Walnuts are a good source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as magnesium, copper, and manganese. Because of these nutrients, walnuts help to reduce the bad cholesterol in the body, providing protection against heart disease.
It is recommended to incorporate a few servings of walnuts into your diet regularly to protect yourself from cardiovascular diseases. However, excessive consumption can cause weight gain.
Almonds are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber. These nutrients help to reduce the level of bad cholesterol known as LDL, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, almonds also increase the level of good cholesterol known as HDL, which prevents the formation of clots in the arteries, providing protection against myocardial infarction.
However, you should remember that almonds are also rich in calories and you can gain weight if you consume them in large amounts. So, it is important to take almonds in moderation to reduce weight and protect yourself from heart conditions.
Edamame is an immature form of soybean that is commonly found in Asian cuisines. It contains a flavonoid called soy isoflavones, which helps to reduce the cholesterol level and protects the heart from the risk of increased cholesterol.
Additionally, edamame is rich in antioxidants and fiber, which provide anti-inflammatory effects and protect the heart from chronic conditions. A cup of edamame contains the fiber equivalent of four slices of whole-grain bread.
Tofu is another good source of soy protein that contains fibers, minerals, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients reduce cholesterol and inflammation, resulting in cardioprotective effects.
Green tea has many health benefits, including maintaining heart health, reducing fat, and improving insulin sensitivity. It contains compounds such as polyphenols and catechins that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and cell damage.
Thus, regular consumption of green tea is associated with reducing bad cholesterol such as LDL and triglycerides, regulating blood pressure, and reducing blood sugar. These functions of green tea help to prevent heart disease.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are required for good health. Additionally, they contain vitamin K and dietary nitrates, which improve the function of blood vessels and regulate blood clotting and blood pressure. These activities make green leafy vegetables a part of a healthy heart diet. Studies have shown that regular consumption of green leafy vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease and improves cardiac function.
Studies have shown that whole grain reduces cholesterol and regulates blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. On the contrary, refined carbohydrates are associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
So, while shopping for bread or other foods, you can check the label for the ingredients and buy whole grain-containing foods rather than refined carbohydrates.
Some common examples of whole grain are:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
Seeds are nutrient-dense foods that are a good source of fiber and essential fatty acids. They protect the heart from risk factors such as inflammation, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Some specific seeds that are useful for the protection against heart disease are:
- Hemp seeds: They protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation.
- Flax seeds: Flax seeds reduces blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and risk of heart diseases.
- Chia seeds: They provide cardioprotective effects by reducing blood triglycerides and increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
The health benefits of garlic are mostly due to a compound called allicin, which has multiple therapeutic effects. Regular consumption of garlic has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and improve platelet function to reduce the formation of clots and strokes.
For maximum health benefits, you should eat it raw or smash it and let it remain for some time before cooking. This allows time for the formation of allicin.
Studies have shown that including berries in your diet reduces the multiple risk factors associated with heart diseases, such as bad cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and inflammation.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect the heart against oxidative stress and inflammation.
You can treat yourself with sweet berries and also enjoy their health benefits. It can be added to whole grain cereals or yogurts for taste and further benefits.
Avocados contain a good amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to reduce bad cholesterol and prevent the risk of heart disease. Several studies have also demonstrated the lipid-lowering and cardioprotective effects of avocados.
Additionally, avocados are known to be rich in potassium, which helps to control blood pressure and thus provides protection against heart disease and stroke.
Tomatoes are rich in a plant pigment called lycopene, which is an effective antioxidant that prevents cellular damage by free radicals and also regulates inflammation. Reducing cellular injury and inflammation prevents heart disease.
Furthermore, tomatoes also increase good cholesterol (HDL), reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), regulate blood pressure, and improve endothelial functions. This activity helps to maintain a healthy heart and protect the heart from risk factors.
Vitamin D-containing diet or supplements
Vitamin D is an important nutrient to keep your heart healthy. Naturally, you can obtain vitamin D from sunlight exposure and certain foods such as salmon and tuna. Some foods such as milk and juices are also fortified with vitamin D. You can check the labels to find those foods. Vitamin D is also available in the form of supplements.
Healthy Eating Habits
We have learned about some foods that can be a part of your healthy heart diet to prevent heart disease. However, we should also know about certain eating habits for better effects and maximum results.
Here we have discussed a few eating habits to be incorporated into your routines to prevent heart disease:
- Control your portion size and eat low-calorie, nutrient-rich food.
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your diet.
- Choose a protein diet that is low in fat
- Reduce salt intake in your diet.
- Create a daily menu to include a balanced diet and limited calories.
- Know your allergy status to different foods. The test can be done at home by ordering AFIL test kits to test for food sensitivity.
The foods that you eat can influence your heart health. There are foods that reduce the risk factors of heart disease, including high blood pressure, inflammation, and blood cholesterol. Most of these foods include green leafy vegetables, fruits, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, soy products, pigmented vegetables, and whole grains.
You should also incorporate healthy eating habits into your routine and choose a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients to prevent heart disease.
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